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Careers in the Federal Government with a Law Degree

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson

Although many law school graduates end up working for law firms, this path is not for everyone. Some people choose to work in the public sector, including for the federal government, which has a variety of benefits such as good health insurance policies and loan assistance programs. The federal government offers a wide range of jobs for people with law degrees that fit almost any personality type.

Litigation

A person who is interested in trying cases in a courtroom can find many opportunities in the federal government. The Department of Justice, as the main litigating branch, hires many attorneys every year. Newly graduated law students can find jobs with the Justice Department through its Attorney General's Honors Program. Attorneys can also litigate in other government agencies, including the Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as for the military through each branch's Judge Advocate General program.

Advisory

Federal adviser or counselor positions involve helping clients comply with the law and federal regulations. These attorneys might field Freedom of Information Act requests, petitions or congressional inquiries. For example, an attorney working in an advisory role for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would help clients learn how to comply with the legal requirements for getting a new drug approved by the FDA.

Regulatory

If an attorney is interested in creating and enforcing new laws and regulations, he could work in a regulatory role with the federal government. These types of jobs can be found with agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If working for OSHA, an attorney might help create new standards for keeping employees safe while they work with hazardous chemicals.

Public Policy

People with law degrees are particularly well qualified for policy-making jobs. For example, a person might work for the Department of Defense helping create policies for dealing with antagonistic foreign countries. Other agencies heavily engaged in policy-making include the Department of Commerce, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the State Department and the Department of Health. Recent law graduates can apply for a two-year fellowship with the Presidential Management Fellows Program in order to get their foot in the door.

Law Enforcement

A person who has obtained a law degree is also qualified to work as in law enforcement for agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation or National Security Agency. These agencies often look specifically for job applicants who have law degrees.

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